So who was behind the noxious “religious liberty” bill that Arizona’s Gov. Jan Brewer ended up vetoing? As it turns out, her staff, in collaboration with a far-right group.
According to a report from Capitol Media Services, two of Brewer’s top aides met with representatives from the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), the conservative outfit that pushed the bill in the legislature, to provide their input on the measure. The report says that the aides, gubernatorial counsel Joe Sciarrotta and adviser Michael Hunter, provided wording changes to the measure and added “provisions designed to narrow who could legally deny services to someone based on a claim of religious freedom.”
Because it’s perfectly okay to discriminate if you keep those provisions narrow.
The governor’s office is trying to pass this revelation off as standard practice for pending legislation. However, the president of CAP, Cathi Herrod, is saying that the changes were clearly offered to make the bill palatable to Brewer. “The intent of the meetings, the purpose of the meetings, was to thoroughly vet the language, address their concerns, and make changes in the language pursuant to their concerns,” Herrod said,
Moreover, Herrod said that CAP staffers met several times with Brewer staffers to accommodate specific change to the legislation. If the governor had problems with the bill, it wasn’t with the language, she insists. “Opponents made the bill about something it was not,” Herrod said. Which is to say, it was accurately characterized as homophobic.
What the latest revelation shows is that Brewer’s office probably thought that the bill would never generate the amount of controversy it did. It also shows that Brewer would have probably been perfectly happy to sign the bill under other circumstances. It’s a testament to the pressure that was brought to bear on her that she finally did kill the measure, but principle had nothing to do with her veto.